Use bay leaves to turn your home into a haven
Some places have an extraordinary aura to them, a certain light or feel — or scent — that makes them special. They fill you with an inner calm, so you just feel at ease.
Why is that, and more importantly, how can we turn our own homes into such places?
Bay, or laurel, leaves are one gentle, simple way to generate an atmosphere that says, "Let go, take a deep breath, there's plenty of time."
The reason is that this plant, frequently used in Mediterranean cooking, has properties beyond just adding flavor to pasta sauce, meat, and soups.
The Greeks believed in the bay leaf's healing powers, using it not just for cooking but also as a medicinal herb. Due to the plant's high essential oil content, it has long been appreciated as an effective folk remedy.
In ancient Greek myth it was one of Apollo's symbols, so it became known as an emblem of victory at the games in his honor. Eventually it came to represent achievement and high status across the Western world.
If thousands of years of use hasn't convinced you, laurel leaves' effectiveness has more recently been proven to protect the skin from a wide variety of ailments (from poison ivy to melanoma), plus it appears to be a muscle and joint relaxant, helpful in treating arthritis and rheumatism.
The bay plant's main essential oil is eucalyptol, which is effective for easing respiratory problems and also widely used to keep mosquitoes away.
However, when you use bay leaves in cooking, it's important to remove them before eating since they're both un-chewable and, when whole, too strong. You can eat them ground up though.
To enjoy the soothing, clarifying effect of bay, just burn a couple of leaves in an incense bowl or other pot. Within 10 minutes, you'll feel more relaxed.
You'll want to do your part to help the effect by, for instance, putting down your phone and taking some deep breaths. We've all heard the expression "Stress is a killer" and it's true. Stress can have a negative effect on virtually every organ, so it's important to find the time to decompress.
The ancient Greeks were really on to something. Bay leaves are a wonderful, versatile herb! So simple and yet so potent.